Welcome to a new build

September 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

Looking back over the blog, I realized that the last build took over two years. Two years! Of course, a lot of things happened over that time (not to mention sheer laziness and a Netflix account).

Happily, I have the bug back and a certain renewed appreciation for wood therapy. And so I invite you into my shop (garage) for my next build — a Resolute 16’6″ kayak, based on plans from the good people at Bear Mountain Boats.

Why a kayak? Well, over the summer I came to realize that I don’t like sitting in canoes and my knees don’t like kneeling. A kayak, on the other hand, is far more comfortable if you ignore the painful clumsiness of an old fart trying to get in and out of the thing.

Why 16’6″? Because that’s just about all the room I have.

At any rate, the plans soon came and I set about cutting out the forms….


…and aligning them.

on strongback2

For this build, I decided to add an accent strip of alternating light and dark triangles. I think it’ll look pretty sharp. The one important thing to remember, if you choose to do something like this, is to make sure the triangles are aligned on each side. You certainly don’t want one side to end on half a light triangle and a third of a dark triangle on the other. Alignment was far more finicky than I expected. But in the end, with a bit of effort and some choice vocabulary, I got it done.

When I’m building the sides, I usually start with butt joints and then transition to bead and cove when the hull starts to curve (with a transitional cove-only strip between). Click here for info on making the strips. Of course, towards the middle of the boat the curve came into play a little prematurely, so I beveled the transitional strip where necessary.

I prefer using bar clamps to keep the strips together. The problem is that with too much pressure, the strips tend to buckle/accordion away from the forms. To combat this, I use C clamps to add some support where the strips meet and bungee cords to keep the strips tight against the forms. Note that I also use pieces of 1/4″ doweling to protect the coves.

clamps stripping

(A note on the last picture: it’s a non-alcoholic beer. I learned early on that you shouldn’t drink and build boats unless you want a WTF moment the next morning).

That’s it for now. If you have any questions or comments, please get in touch.

Progress thus far

February 18, 2013 § 3 Comments

The picture below contains a couple of items that I want to touch on.

The first is the inset of the bird, done in a darker cedar than the surrounding strips. Besides being an attractive feature, the inset effectively integrates joints into an overall design. The fact that grain and color don’t match (a concern when joining strips) becomes desirable. In this way, I’ve been able to do most of the sides of the canoe without obsessing about how good the joins look.

The picture below also shows the use of 1/4″ dowels to protect the coves of the strips when clamping, and the use of both clamps and bungee cords to press the strips together. As the stripping continues, the clamps eventually become too short (or the curve of the hull makes their use impossible). At this point, I use bungees and either wind them around the assembled strips or hook them from the newly-installed strip to the base of the strongback.


Installing the internal gunwale

March 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

I fashioned the gunwales out of strips of ash, approximately 7/8″ x 5/8″. I ran the strips through the router to soften the edges and then epoxied the joint with epoxy and wood flour.

Ash is a hardwood, so it’s no surprise that I needed every clamp in my collection to persuade it to go where I wanted it to go. Rather than screwing the gunwale to the canoe, I again used epoxy.

You’ll note that the yoke has also been installed at this point.

Next up: external gunwales and deck.

On clamps

February 10, 2011 § 4 Comments

I mentioned earlier that when building a canoe, you can never have enough clamps. Having said that like a know-it-all, I wish I had more. The following picture shows my two favorite clamping methods:

canoe building: clamps

In the foreground, you see a spring clamp with an “L” bracket made out of plywood. This is my favorite clamping method, as it keeps the strip tight against the form and allows pretty good pressure to keep the strip in the cove of its neighbor. For pesky strips that need a little more force to keep the strips mated, I use bar clamps. These clamps have very good strength, but too much force tends to make the strips bow out from the station form.

I’ve also started to experiment with bungee cords:

Note that I use the bead from a scrap piece of wood when using bar clamps and bungees to protect the cove.

At any rate, here’s a picture of progress thus far:

The dots, by the way, are hot melt glue residue that will be sanded off.

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